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"Thank you, my lord, for the offer; but we shall be down to the Styx in five minutes, and if he jumps it I shall want more than that for him.'
"The Styx is a brook not so easily crossed as its namesake. Charon himself, on a thorough-bred one, would have looked twice at it and turned away. Indeed I never saw anyone jump it that did look at it; and I have seen it full of performers of the highest character that did not. Tom, however, had a not undeserved opinion of his horse's merits, and in a few minutes more he had a chance of putting them to the test. Down they came; and as the leading hounds dragged their sterns after them up the bank, one man, and one alone, about a hundred yards to the right of them, was seen to be in the right field; four were in the water a little to the left, one on the top of Old Melody, and the rest nowhere. Of course someone knew of a ford or a bridge, and at the end of another twenty minutes they caught the hounds; when the first thing that was seen worth notice, was poor Tom Duckett leading the brown horse by the bridle, badly staked at the very last fence before the hill. The brown horse died that night, and poor Tom was a bankrupt within twelve months from that day."*
Great fluctuation often happens in the price of the same animal in a few months, which does not arise from any diminution of his intrinsic value, but depends on the situation in which he is placed from being offered to different classes of persons.
"I went to see," says a well known sporting writer, a stud of horses for sale at Tattersalls: I perceived that one horse among the stud seemed to attract very great attention, and this I thought was easily accounted for, from his being one of the finest horses I think I ever saw. But I found another cause for this general attraction, when I heard he was not only beyond competition the widest jumper in the stud, but known to be the widest brook or drain jumper in Lincolnshire, where he had been hunted. He was put up with the rest, and I bought him at a hundred guineas. He was no sooner knocked down to me than I felt I had done wrong. Several others of the same stud were sold at far higher prices, not one of which could any way be compared with him as to looks, size or breeding; in short, I felt certain he was too cheap to be good. A couple of guineas to the head groom produced no explanation, but that he was a very good horse, the fastest in the stud, and the biggest jumper in Lincolnshire. I hunted him; found him fast enough to go at his ease up to any hounds with any scent; nothing too big for him in his stride, and a mistake seemed impossible, so it was anything he chose to try; but he seemed to think it beneath his dignity to jump at any ordinary fence, and I should say, during three times I rode him with hounds, he was on his nose with me twenty times. He had
* Chas. Clarke-Crumbs from a Sportsman's Table.
another pleasing propensity; if there were twenty little water drains in the field, I would back him to put his foot in every one of them. I was lucky enough, however, to find a farmer who piqued himself on being the boldest rider in the country where I was hunting, and had on more than one occasion pounded
the whole field. It struck me the widest jumper in all Lincolnshire and my friend the dauntless farmer would be well matched it ended in my allowing him to try "Lincoln" at a brook that had been considered in the hunt as impassable without. a boat or taking a cold bath. The price was agreed upon if the horse did it he did it and to spare. I drew £50, taking in exchange decidedly one of the cleverest hunters I ever had, and eventually sold him at a hundred and fifty, when fourteen years old."
And here is another story, showing how the price of a horse may make a vast rise in a short time. "Some summers ago, a horse found his way into the stable of a celebrated dealer in Piccadilly, that, like a young lady of great beauty and fortune on her first appearance at Court, created quite a sensation amongst a certain set, known for their exclusive notions respecting women and horses. The West-end was in a state of excitement. hundred pounds had been offered to, and refused by, this spirited dealer in hard bargains, who himself had given three hundred for him. The fame of the nag spread even beyond Bow Bells, and a brother dealer from the neighbourhood of Romford found his business stand still-nobody would come to his yard till the wonder was disposed of. Romford even caught the mania, and was determined to have a peep at the phenomenon, and quietly walked one fine morning into the mews where the beauty was preserved. The nag was paraded and then the following short colloquy passed :- There Romford, is not he a top-sawyer? You complain I have not bought any horses of you lately; bring such a sort as that and I'll buy a hundred.' Romford picked up his ash plant, slapped it smartly on his boot top, and walking quietly out of the yard by his friend's side, said :- Well, Piccadilly, 'tis a nice horse and he looks fresh and well, and I bought him eight months ago at Howden fair at thirty-five sovereigns.' Such was
the fact." t
Smartness in horse dealing is not confined to Great Britain. The Yankees are awfully "cute" at making a bargain. The following is a picture of an American horse-dealer:
"Just before the snow and ice disappeared, a Yankee field officer, a horse-dealer by vocation, one Major Slocombe, arrived in our garrison (Quebec) from the States. He brought with him a string of horses, one or two of which, according to
*Harry Hieover-Stable Talk and Table Talk.
the major's account, would have distanced Eclipse. Give me an American horse-dealer for hyperbole and gag; he is the boy for metaphor. A friend of mine, Captain J—— of the Engineers, and myself had agreed to purchase a good cocktail that could gallop a little, with the intention of running him in the spring, as it had been determined upon to establish something in the shape of garrison races as soon as the weather would permit. With this object in view we repaired to the livery-stables, where 'the Major' had put up his batch of thoroughbreds. The loquacious owner of this wonderful batch of high-bred cattle was in the yard, smoking his Havannah, whip in hand, and looking as 'cute as a thorough Kentuckian can look. After enumerating the several estimable qualities of every animal in the stud, he inquired what sort of a crittur' we wanted. Upon being informed that we were in quest of a nag' wot could get over the ground rather smartish,' he replied:
"Now, gentlemen, I'll be candid with you-(mark the Yankee's candour, I pray you, good reader)-if you want a slow horse he won't suit you, for may I go to everlastin' smash if he ain't the fastest galloper I ever clapt eyes on-that 'ere chestnut I mean, gentlemen-him as the boy's a leading up and down. May I be catamawpously chawed up if there's his ekal in all Canada. You all know God Almighty was employed six days a-makin' the world; well, and on the seventh he put on that horse's forehand. I say you Hiram, run him down, and let the British officer see what a genoowine American horse is. He arn't got no vishiousness in him. Lord love ye! He's as spry as a fiddler and as pleasant as a tea-party. He's dirt cheap at four hundred dollars.'
"As we did not quite agree with our American friend as to this fact, we took leave to express our dissent, the surest and most comprehensive method being to offer half the money. After a good deal of swearing, lying, higgling and bargaining, the horse was ours for two hundred and fifty dollars; and he did in part deserve the high eulogiums Major Slocombe passed upon him; he was a good honest horse, and ran gamely and
There is some difference between selling and giving a horse; the old proverb says you should not look a gift horse in the mouth; but among certain American Indians it seems the custom for the giver of a horse to give the recipient a good thrashing.
"When General Street and I arrived at Kee-o-kuk's village, we were just in time to see an amusing scene in the prairie a little back of his village. The Foxes,' were making up a war party to go against the Sioux,' and had not suitable horses enough by
*The Sorting Mag. 1813.
twenty, had sent word to the 'Sacs' the day before, according to ancient custom, that they were coming on that day at a certain time to smoke that number of horses, and they must not fail to have them ready. On that day and at that hour the twenty young men who were beggars for horses were on the spot, and seated themselves on the ground in a circle, where they went to smoking. The villagers flocked around them in a dense crowd, and soon after there appeared on the prairie at half-a-mile distance, an equal number of young men of the Sac' tribe, who had agreed to give each a horse, and who were then galloping around them at full speed; and gradually, as they went around in a circuit, coming nearer to the centre until they were at last close to the ring of young fellows seated on the ground. Whilst dashing about thus, each one with a heavy whip in his hand, as he came within reach of the group on the ground, selected the one to whom he intended to present his horse; and as he passed gave him the most tremendous cut with his lash over the naked shoulders; and as he darted around again, he plied the whip as before, and again and again, with a violent crack, until the blood could be seen trickling over his naked shoulders; upon which he instantly dismounted, and placed the bridle and whip in his hands, saying: 'Here, you are a beggar; I present you a horse, but you will carry my mark on your back.' In this manner they were all in a little time whipped up,' and each had a good horse to ride home and take into battle. His necessity was such that he could afford to take the stripes and the scars as the price of the horse, and the giver could afford to make the present for the satisfaction of putting his mark on the other, and of boasting of his liberality."
How many English gentlemen would care to receive a horse, with the accompanying castigation; the stripes being well laid on by a powerful groom, armed with a stout whalebone whip?
STORIES OF DEALERS AND DUPES.
OME rare stories are told of the way in which dealers cheat their customers. Here are a few of them:
"My first horse-dealing adventure was with a Quaker, and I approached the owner of the first object of my speculation with much confidence. It was a well-bred, gay little gelding, full of life and spirit; I approved and purchased him. Friend Joseph was very precise with me. "There is the horse, friend; my price is thirty guineas.'
* George Catlin-North American Indians.
"Will you allow me to try him, sir?'
"Thou art a stranger to me, friend; thou mayst injure the animal, and we shall not know who is in fault.'
"Will you warrant him, sir?'
"He has always carried me well, friend; I believe him to be sound, but few men are agreed upon what soundness is.' "Is thirty guineas the lowest price?'
"I have asked thee what I believe to be his just value, and I shall take no less."
"I paid my money and was well pleased with my purchase for three days, and then discovered, what a very little reflection might have told me at first, that the Quaker being two stone lighter than myself and presumably a quiet rider, a horse that would carry him safely would in less than a week break his own knees and endanger my neck. He was a good horse, though not fit for me."
In this case the Quaker certainly cannot be called a cheat, but Sir G. Stephens relates another deal in which he was regularly taken in and done for:
"I set off," he says, " to examine a sweet mare' with a pedigree as long as her tail. She belonged to a gentleman, and I was determined to see my 'gentleman.' A sort of nondescript, half-gentleman, half-jockey, but with the word rogue as legibly written on his face as if it had been tattooed there, came forward. Bought her for breeding, sir; won't do; dropped three fillies running. Sweetest creature that ever was crossed, but she won't breed a colt, and she must go.'
"Do you warrant her, sir.'
"Warrant her? To be sure! I'll warrant her to fly with you.' "Do you warrant her sound?'
"Tickleback sound! Why, she is as well known at Tattersall's as myself.'
"I was by no means satisfied, but in decency I could press the point no further; I liked her looks, and thought the best policy was to assume that his intentions were good. I told him I would send a cheque by my servant, and would trouble him to send back a receipt, with the usual warranty, and left him In a couple of hours John brought home the mare and the receipt. How does she go, John?' 'Pretty well, sir.' I saw the rascal was drunk, and asked him for the receipt. He fumbled first in this pocket and then in the other, and at last produced an unstamped acknowledgment for the money, but not a word of warranty! The next morning, when sober, he owned that the gentleman' had given him half a crown, and the 'gentleman's groom' had helped him to spend it! The rest was easily explained: The gentlemen' was gone to Melton or Newmarket instead of Tattersall's-but the mare went there, and was certainly as well known as I could wish. It was the